At the beginning of January this year we celebrated our fourth birthday. It seems a world away from now when Alison was sat in the solicitor’s office at 5.00pm on New Year’s Eve waiting to sign the documents, committing Rob and herself to a new and exciting adventure in Market Harborough. It was stressful to say the least, not really knowing what was to come and how we were going to deal with taking on a new business.
But it was a dream that we had had for a long time and so we decided during 2015 that if we didn’t stop dreaming about how our optical store would look – and actually do something positive about it – then it probably would never happen. Taking a huge leap of faith, the dream eventually became a reality.
Dreams do come true
We had fantasied about owning our very own optical store for a few years, imaging what it would look like, where it would be and what collections we would carry. One day in March 2015 by chance Alison saw an article in an optical trade paper advertising an evening workshop in Manchester. The workshop was an opportunity to find out more about how to go about owning and managing your own optical store. So, after much deliberation Alison set off to see what it was all about. The evening was interesting and informative but more than that it made us realise that it was now time to seriously research the opportunities that were out there.
To begin with, we looked at locations and the pros and cons of opening a new store or buying an existing business. Much of this was covered in the workshop, and eventually we decided to buy an existing practice. The tricky thing was finding one that was available, especially since we wanted to stay local. After looking in great depth at the surrounding area, we decided we wanted our optical store to be situated in Market Harborough.
Finding the perfect location
The next step involved more research, and specifically to investigate all the premises available and their locations. After spending a lot of time sitting outside Blend Coffee Shop in Manor Walk, Alison believed she had found the perfect location – T J Hanby Opticians. It was a long-established optician, in a lovely location and with a great shop front. So Alison contacted Mr Hanby the old fashioned way, with a letter explaining the situation and that if he ever wanted to sell his business we would be interested in buying it. As expected, we didn’t hear anything so a month or so later followed up with another letter. Suddenly the door of opportunity opened when out of the blue we received a call from the owner to meet up and discuss things further. That was in July 2015 and as they say the rest is history.
We hit the ground running in January 2016, mindful of the importance of keeping the shop open as much as possible, for several reasons. Mr Hanby had existing patients who would expect the continuation of his expert knowledge and eye care, so we operated in the existing interior until March when we begin the task of refitting the store. We managed to do the work in two halves and completed much of the messy work at weekends. Our new look store – now renamed Respectacle Company – went down very well with both existing patients and the new customers we started to attract.
Taking over any existing business has its own unique challenges. We needed to update the computer equipment and introduce new procedures to ensure the smooth running of the business. Aware of many of the eyewear collections we wanted to stock, these were gradually introduced to the store.
At Respectacle Company we aren’t looking to compete with the high street chains that have huge advertising campaigns and regular offers for cheap multiple pairs of spectacles. For us it’s always been about providing our customers with first class customer service, high quality eyewear collections and expert knowledgeable advice about the best eyewear solutions to fit their lifestyle and needs.
Eyewear collections from around the world
With this in mind we have sourced eyewear collections from around the world, all of which are high quality, individually designed frames, which only use the best materials and skilled craftsman to produce their highly regarded collections. From day one we always aspired to stock Theo eyewear, a brand from Belgium. Theo is a colourful and fun brand known for pushing the boundaries when it comes to eyewear. They have a huge following around the globe, and Respectacle Company is extremely fortunate to be one of the few UK stockists of Theo eyewear.
Other Respectacle collections include February 31st, a sustainable collection from Italy who manufacture each frame from layers of wood, making each frame unique to its wearer. Then there’s Vinylize, who hand make their spectacle frames from old vinyl records which adds a beautiful tactile collection. Not forgetting award winning Caroline Abram, an eyewear designer from Paris who produces beautiful feminine shapes incorporating a plethora of colour combinations. And L.G.R, handmade Italian eyewear with a history of vintage styling.
A family run independent opticians
All these brands compliment each other and showcase what Respectacle stands for. We’re a small independent family run opticians dedicated to delivering remarkable eyewear and high quality customer care in a relaxed, informal environment. Four years on, Respectacle now attracts customers from across the country, including Chesterfield, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Birmingham. It’s safe to say we think customers are enjoying the Respectacle experience.
Respectacle Company is open from Tuesday to Saturday. You’ll find our optical store in Manor Walk, Market Harborough. Come and pay us a visit and check out our fabulous eyewear collections. If you have any questions about our collections, please get in touch with us here or call 01858 433 577.